2015 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander
Named after Jim Clendenen’s son Knox, this wine is from the finest lots of Pinot Noir from the estate Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido Vineyard since 1998. These two vineyards, separated only by the Sisquoc River, have slow growing vines planted in well drained poor soils, which produce really distinctive Pinot Noir. Both vineyards struggle to yield much most years, but the small amount that is harvested is of amazing quality.
Vineyards: Knox is a blend of our two “estate” vineyards, Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat. Both vineyards are in the Santa Maria Valley, with Le Bon Climat being located on the southern edge of this appellation. Le Bon Climat was planted in 1998 with low vigor rootstock in some well drained poor soil. This combination of low vigor plants and poor soil limit the crop size and slow ripening. The two blocks selected to be used in Knox are Block 2 and Block 11. Block 2 was planted in 1994 with a wide mix of clones, which are 103, 113, 114, 115, 2A, Mt. Eden along with some Pinot Meunier. Block 2 has a south/west exposure which is good for morning sun though many mornings during the growing season the sun is blocked by our Santa Maria fog. Our other premium block of Pinot Noir at Bien Nacido is Block 11 which is planted with clones 667, 777, 115, 2A, Swan and Jackson in 1997. Block 11 is a steep, hillside block with north/west exposure.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 93 "The 2015 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander is absolutely gorgeous. Silky and perfumed, with terrific freshness, the Knox Alexander has too much to offer. Sage, mint, hard candy and red cherry fruit are all fused together in this super-expressive Pinot. A dollop of whole clusters adds aromatic intensity without dominating the balance, while the 100% new French oak is already very nicely integrated. The Knox Alexander is a selection mostly taken from the Block 11 at Bien Nacido, one of the northern-facing parcels on the ranch."
Score: 93 "Very light in the glass, this elegant bottling by Jim Clendenen shows spicy aromas of mace, crushed sage and eucalyptus, set against tangy cranberry and hibiscus aromas. It's a sprightly wine on the palate, with thyme, bay leaf and rusty cranberry flavors. Drink now through 2035."
Score: 92 "Well-structured, with concentrated notes of forest floor to the dried raspberry and cherry flavors. Hot stone and spice accents fill the enveloping finish. Drink now through 2021. 850 cases made." – KM
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score: 91 "The 2015 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander is excellent, wafting from the glass with notes of griotte cherry, sweet soil, toasty new oak and currants. On the palate, the wine is supple and generous, more velvety and seductive than the Isabelle, with an ample core of fruit, juicy acids and fine structuring tannins."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
Score: 90 "Ever an advocate of balance and subtlety over heft and high ripeness, Au Bon Climat finds a fine expression of just that in this carefully composed, quietly complex Pinot. It is moderately full-bodied with a steady sense of nominally ripened cherryish fruit backed by a temperate touch of sweet oak and a smattering of herbs. It is a serious, yet slightly restrained offering rather than one of forceful impact, and, if a lovely companion to lighter foods in the short term, it is structured to keep and will evolve gracefully for years to come."
Prince of Pinot
Score: 94 "Estate bottled. Sourced from the finest lots at Bien Nacido and Au Bon Climat vineyards. Block 2 from Le Bon Climat Vineyard was planted in 1994 with a wide mix of clones including 103, 113, 114, 115, 2A, Mt. Eden and some Pinot Meunier. Block 11 at Bien Nacido Vineyard is planted with clones 667, 777, 115, 2A, Swan and Jackson in 1997. 50% Dijon and 50% traditional California selections. Jim’s son Knox arrived in 1998 and this is a distinct bottling to honor him. Aged 22 months in French oak barrels. Fined with egg whites. Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose offers primarily non-fruit aromas of fertile earth, burnt tobacco and toast. Much more enticing on the palate, with mid weight flavors of Bing cherry and noticeable toasty oak. There is a healthy, but not intrusive backbone of tannins. Considerably more appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the oak had become more subservient to the fruit. Decant if you plan to drink now, but further cellaring is a better option. "